I’m sure we’ve all had them at one point or another. Those people in our lives who don’t actively dislike us but who we just get the feeling aren’t too keen on us. For whatever reason they just don’t seem to have warmed to us or, almost worse in a way, are just a bit indifferent to us.
It might be a work colleague, a family member, someone in your partner’s family or friendship group, anyone.
Sometimes you can just brush it off, not worry about them and get on with your life.
Other times though, it would make life much easier if you could win this person over and get them to like you. If you’ve got someone in your life at the moment who fits in that second category then keep reading for a little trick that might help.
Try asking them for a small favour.
Think really small. So if it’s a work colleague, ask them if you can borrow their pen quickly. If it’s another parent at the school gate, ask if they can hold something for you while you sort something out for your child.
You want to make it such a small favour that they can’t really say ‘no’ to it.
This also tends to work best if you actually say the words, “can you do me a quick favour?” and then make your request.
What you’ll most likely find is that they’ll do this one small favour for you and then, thanks to a little thing called cognitive dissonance, they’ll convince themselves that you’re not too bad after all.
It’s all down to the fact that we don’t like it when our feelings and our actions don’t match up. We feel really uncomfortable if we do a favour for someone we think we don’t like. So to stop this niggling feeling, we need to either change our actions or our feelings.
When we’ve already done a favour for someone, because it was so small we couldn’t really say no, then we end up deciding we like the person after all to stop these feelings of conflict.
This is also known as the Benjamin Franklin Effect.
Apparently Franklin once won over a rival after asking if he could borrow a book of his, then returning it with a kind note of thanks. The next time they saw each other the rival was much more civil towards him, helped him out and the two men ended up being friends.
Franklin himself wrote, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged”.
This theory has been proved in various studies since.
We are more likely to end up liking someone, and helping them out in the future, if we do them a small favour, than if they do us a favour.
So next time you want to win over someone who you think is unsure about you, try asking them for a small favour.
Ask the mum at playgroup who seems a bit standoffish if she can watch your cup of tea while you change your baby.
Ask you colleague if they can forward the minutes from a meeting to you.
Ask your mother-in-law if she can give you the recipe for a meal she made.
Whoever it is you want to win over, think of a little favour you can ask of them, and then see if it helps to change the way they think about you and act towards you. You should find that they act more warmly towards you next time you see them (especially if you greet them with a subtle eyebrow-flash!).